Truth and Disfavored Identities

Truth and Disfavored Identities, by Max Hymas. See this from yesterday.

In public discourse, an opponent’s identity and experience can matter more than their arguments. For instance, if you are a philosopher who supports the use of torture in a narrow set of circumstances on utilitarian grounds, you would not want to find yourself debating the ethics of such a position with a victim of torture. The optics of such a debate would be horrible, and in the minds of many observers they would place the philosopher at a decisive disadvantage no matter how careful or well defended his arguments happened to be. In the same way, whole groups of people consigned to the bottom of the identity politics grievance hierarchy are saddled with a similar handicap, often in situations far less contentious than the debate over torture.

On Saturday in Washington DC, a group of Catholic school kids fell victim to this presumptive logic. The progressive media ran with a story that confirmed their intersectional priors and, in the process, damaged their credibility, established an unsustainable precedent, and unwittingly affirmed President Trump’s demagogic “Fake News” mantra. …

See this from yesterday, if you are unfamiliar with the Covington-High-versus-native-American-activist story. After the kids were damned and hounded from every media outlet and subjected to two minutes of hate, including activists trying to get their university admissions rescinded, eventually the truth came out:

It seems that it was Phillips [the native American drummer and activist] who approached the boys, beating his drum while they were minding their own business, chanting their high school cheer, and awaiting instructions from their chaperone. In every video of the incident that I have watched, the boys’ behaviour is arguably rowdy and insensitive, but I have yet to see any evidence that supports the far more egregious charge of racism. That is, unless we are prepared to accept that any confrontation between a Native American and a white youth is ipso facto racist, no matter who instigated it or why. …

This disgraceful affair is further evidence of America’s spiralling polarization and of group hatreds being used to justify sanctimonious mobbing and violence. Activists and Twitter blowhards, some of them with thousands of followers, have run roughshod over the facts with a false narrative of grotesque privilege colliding with noble oppression that confirmed their ideological preferences. Their idle (and possibly cynical) demonization of schoolchildren was then amplified by click-hungry media sites trafficking in furious indignation and recklessly stoking sectarian anger. That Phillips played his own part in encouraging a misleading version of events does not excuse the failure to verify on the part of those uncritically reporting and circulating his remarks.

As white and wealthy Christian young men confronted by an ageing person of color, the schoolboys were placed at an immediate disadvantage on a number of identitiarian fronts, so that it was evidently felt that their point of view could be presumptively and legitimately disregarded. So entrenched have such assumptions become in the nation’s finest progressive minds, that supposedly serious news outlets splashed headlines across their websites like “Boys in ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats Mob Native Elder at Indigenous Peoples March,” with scant consideration for quaint notions like fairness or accuracy. And as a result of sunk costs and the incentive to save face, the odds of retractions — even in the face of compelling evidence — are slim.

Glenn Reynolds:

The fear and hatred of young white males is palpable, and present even among some people on the right. Because that’s our culture in 2019. And don’t tell me your “true conservatism” is about “decency and standards” when you’re willing to flush the lives of teenagers so you can do your “I’m not like them” virtue-signalling.

UPDATE: From the comments: “The sh*tposters and trolls at 4chan had the story nailed down right away while highly paid and experienced ‘professionals’ had almost every aspect of the story wrong, wrong, wrong. They get paid too much.”